India - Christmas

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)


Christmas, also called Christ's Mass, is celebrated all over the world including India. In India, even non Christians join Christians in celebrating the birth of Christ, the son of God on this day.

Though Christmas is celebrated on 25th December by most Christians, some Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on January 7th. It is said that the birth of Jesus Christ fulfills the prophecy in the Old Testament that a Messiah, or Savior will come to this world.

Legend has it that an angel told Mary that the Holy Spirit had caused her to have a child. Then she and her husband Joseph left their home in Nazareth to go to Joseph's ancestral home in Bethlehem. When they didn't find any room in the inns, they took shelter in a stable and there Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. Shepherds came to the stable to adore baby Jesus. Magi or the wise men also came with many gifts to pay homage to Jesus Christ. According to the prophecy, Jesus Christ is believed to be the messiah, who was sent by God to lead the Jewish people.

For Christians Christmas is celebration time. It is celebrated as a winter festival. Due to less agricultural work in winter, people enjoy Christmas with much enthusiasm. Before Christmas, great preparations are made. People white-wash their houses and churches. They are then decorated with bright balloons and festoons. The Christians cut a branch from a Christmas tree and plant it in the corner of their house. They decorate it with lamps, flowers and toys. In night, Christmas songs and prayers are sung by the family members and guests. A grand feast of various delicacies is organized and enjoyed by the family members and guests.

In India, Christmas is also called bada din, meaning the big day. Gifts are exchanged among family members and friends. Some gifts are attributed to Santa Claus. Even in non Christian families, the legend of Santa Claus is maintained. The whole town is adorned and there are whole night events in the restaurants and clubs. There is a lot of feasting and partying during this period. Everyone buys small Christmas trees which are available in the markets and decorate them with all the artifacts. There is no dearth of enthusiasm among the people and people from all communities celebrate.

Christmas is considered the national festival of India. Everywhere you can see card board replicas of Santa Claus to create a festive spirit. In places of large gatherings, you can see people dressed up as Santa Claus and mingling and handing out gifts to children. The atmosphere is of such gaiety and joy that a Christian foreigner can be excused for not missing his hometown.


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